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Is your Office 365 adoption strategy working?

Mar 17, 2017 by Laura Zawacki

Office 365 can have a significant positive impact on an organisation and its employees, in both a financial and operational sense, but to get this value, users must adopt the technology.

Microsoft released a white paper in which they identified the most important success factors for driving end user adoption and engagement with Office 365. The factors they outlined are:

  • Stakeholder involvement
  • Goal definition and identification of business cases
  • Awareness and training

With a little planning and support, these success factors are manageable to implement, however, it’s not always easy to measure their effectiveness. In a smaller organisation, it might be simple to see how employees are adopting the technology since IT can check in with users individually and provide ad-hoc training when needed. Unfortunately, this method to increase engagement doesn’t scale well at enterprise level, and the stakes are much higher.

The cost of an Office 365 rollout

Once a company has invested in Office 365, it’s in their best interest to ensure a worthwhile return. Some companies choose Office 365 because of the potential long-term savings of moving to the cloud, but more often the main drivers are the operational benefits like increased productivity, flexibility, and collaboration. If users don’t adopt the technology, then these benefits will never be realised. The direct and indirect costs associated with Office 365 can add up quickly so it’s beneficial to identify which engagement efforts are working so strategies can be tailored in the future to gain maximum value from its users. Here are some examples of the involved costs:

  • Migration to Office 365 (email, third-party archives, phone, files, PSTs, public folders, etc.)
  • Subscription and Licenses
  • Training (for users, and admins)
  • Ongoing administration and support
  • Increased bandwidth

As long as employees are taking full advantage of all Office 365 services available to them, implementing Office 365 is a worthwhile investment. An adoption strategy will educate users on what these services are, how to use them, and how they’ll benefit.

Who are the right people to involve?

It’s important to get the right people involved in your Office 365 adoption efforts; they need to be active participants, and it’s beneficial if they have some influence within the organisation. Choosing the right stakeholders can be difficult, and some form of accountability can be helpful to ensure they remain involved and active in the adoption process so positive momentum doesn’t fizzle. In fact, you may already have good candidates for champions, but without sending out an all-company email or survey you might not know who they are. One way to choose champions is to run adoption and usage reports at the very beginning of your Office 365 implementation to see which users are the first adopters. These people are likely to be interested in, and excited about Office 365, making them advantageous stakeholders. You’ll want to get these power users in front of others to spread awareness of the available features and the value employees will receive by using Office 365. These champions can also help answer questions, and might help reduce the flood of questions coming into your help-desk queue.

What are you trying to accomplish with Office 365?

There are many reasons that a company might implement Office 365, but some of the common objectives and goals are to:

  • Enable communication
  • Streamline scheduling and planning
  • Expand access to information
  • Collaborate with others
  • Simplify and centralise IT administration

Once you’ve established the use cases your organisation is focusing on, and what the training method will be, you’ll have to decide how you’ll measure its success, and how you’ll get that specific information. If you’re trying to enable communication, you’ll want to see detailed analysis on Skype and Outlook activities. On the other hand, if you’re working to expand access to information, you may focus on OneDrive or SharePoint adoption information to measure their effectiveness.

Are the training and awareness campaigns doing what they’re meant to? How do you know?

Anecdotal evidence of adoption and engagement success sounds great, but since implementing Office 365 and providing training and support requires money and time, it’s good to know for certain what’s working and where to focus your budget. That’s where reporting can be extremely useful.

  • Are you seeing measurable improvements? If you’ve been spending weeks on an Office 365 training program, with only negligible results, maybe it’s time to retire that program and try another method.
  • Are you wasting time targeting users that already know what they’re doing? Training employees who already have experience with Office 365 is a waste of time, money and resources. By using analytics to identify and target users who need training, rather than those who don’t, you can minimise your costs, while increasing your Office 365 ROI.
  • Are you wasting time training on applications that are already well-used? Most users figure out email quickly, but SharePoint, OneDrive, and Skype for Business can take a little longer to learn. Some organisations do themselves a disservice because they only concentrate on one or two applications in the entire Office 365 suite, when there are additional areas to gain value.

Methods of finding adoption and engagement information

Office 365 Native Reports

For a small organisation, the native reporting functionality in Office 365, in conjunction with individual check-ins with users, may paint a good enough picture of Office 365 adoption and engagement; however, native reports are not flexible or scalable enough for a large team. There are only about 18 pre-configured reports and admins can only use pre-set date ranges (which is restricted to 180 days), and can only filter by a limited set of fields. The native reports cannot be scheduled, automated, or shared, making it inconvenient to communicate engagement trends with other teams and stakeholders.

PowerShell scripts

If a company is looking for custom reports, another option is to run PowerShell scripts, however, this method requires an IT admin to create, run and maintain these scripts. It also only produces raw data outputs, which then need to be formatted in Excel. A PowerShell script can be used for smaller sets of data, but if a large enterprise is running a query, it could take hours to return the results. Overall, this method is very time-intensive and requires experience. Reporting on your Office 365 adoption and engagement should not require this much effort or time, this information needs to be easily accessible, and fast.

A custom reporting solution

Native reporting might work for some organisation’s needs, but if you require reporting, which can show you the kind of detailed breakdown necessary for assessing adoption and engagement, and evaluating your Office 365 ROI, you might need a dedicated reporting solution. There are a number of third party reporting solutions in the market, offering toolsets which can help to measure adoption and usage. As one of the leading providers for Office 365 reporting and analytics software, our solution offers detailed adoption and engagement reporting on Office 365 and SharePoint, offering numerous out-of-the-box reports.

As your Office 365 adoption and success metrics may be very specific to your organisation or industry, you can use the custom reports to create the exact reports needed to analyse your specific configurations. Scheduled, automated, and sharable reports can be sent to stakeholders to communicate progress and gain further support of ongoing adoption programs.

When measuring your ROI for Office 365, detailed, tailored reporting will give you a clearer, more comprehensive analysis of which strategies are working, and which are not when it comes to stakeholders, use cases, and training. Organisations can then use this information to adjust their adoption plan, saving time and money, and thereby maximising ROI. If you’re the project owner of your organisation’s Office 365 initiative, make sure you are able to demonstrate the value of your implementation, using clear usage trends to develop data-proven strategies that work.